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There has been some controversy about Michael Reagan’s claim that then-Senator Biden threatened to leak classified information in order to bully President Reagan into stopping covert programs.
After my father was out of office he shared with me that Sen Joe Biden confronted him and told him if he disagreed with my father on a Covert action he had planned he would leak it to the media to stop it..
— Michael Reagan (@ReaganWorld) January 23, 2023
Defenders of the president demanded proof. After all, while Michael was Reagan’s son, that doesn’t assure us that either his recollection is correct or that he wasn’t simply casting aspersions on Biden at a time when the classified documents scandal makes him vulnerable. Reagan is an active political figure, so it’s not like he isn’t a bit biased.
On the other hand, if true it certainly provides evidence bolstering the claim that Biden has an…interesting relationship with classified information. At the very least it demonstrates that he views these things through the lens of politics, not national security. “Classified” means things he wants to keep secret, not things which have been deemed by the authorities to be.
That is apparently the case. Biden thinks he is the ultimate arbiter of what should and should not be classified, and thought so as a Senator way back in 1986.
He says he was “the single most active” Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, a claim that is hard to assess, since the committee’s proceedings are almost entirely secret. Biden says he “twice threatened to go public with covert action plans by the Reagan administration that were harebrained,” and thereby halted them. Committee rules forbid him from saying what those plans were.
Now before I get all high and mighty about this, I have to acknowledge that very few people in Washington actually take classification of documents seriously. Or, I should say, nobody important does.
People lower on the totem pole can have their lives ruined for mere carelessness with classified documents and government secrets, but if you are a member of the club you can pretty much do what you want without consequences.
James Comey, for instance, leaked like a sieve when he was doing his best to destroy President Trump.
Classified information gets leaked to the press constantly for political reasons. Leaks the size of Niagara Falls occur all the time, but unless you are exposing actual government wrongdoing the consequences are usually nonexistent.
And, for the most part, these classified documents actually reveal little, given how every little thing is classified. Technical secrets, sources and methods are life and death issues. But a lot of times things are made secret that are commonly available knowledge.
Still, that is problem with the classification system, and isn’t an excuse for the cavalier way in which politicians and bureaucrats treat our nation’s secrets. And it certainly isn’t an excuse for the differential way in which lower-level officials and soldiers are treated and the careless way that the high and mighty are allowed to flout the rules.
Whatever you think of the classification system and how the rules are applied, it’s pretty clear that Biden has utter contempt for the rules. Almost four decades ago he bragged about his indifference to classification, and it’s clear that his attitude hasn’t changed.
As is so often the case, Biden believes that rules are for thee, not for he.